LFB Team Interviews – Lee Edward McIlmoyle

Although Life Flashes By was a project I largely undertook on my own, I did, as they say, get by with a little help from my friends. As such, I figured I’d do a series of short interviews with people who played some kind of key role in helping this game become what it is. Today’s interviewee is Lee Edward McIlmoyle, aka Lee in Limbo, a dear friend of mine who contributed graphic design and a voice cameo as Edwin McKay.

Tell me a little about your background in graphic design.

When I was a little boy… oh wait, I’ve been a little boy for most of my life. Lemme start again. When I was in my early teens, I rediscovered comic books, and through the pages of The Uncanny X-Men, I discovered the excellent work of Tom Orzechowski, letterer extraordinaire. Without really realizing it, I started to be indoctrinated into the arcane world of graphic design and typography, a sinister realm from which I have yet to extricate myself. Damn you, Tom! Damn you and your pretty letterforms to heck!

I went to Sheridan College briefly in the early 90s, in a misguided attempt to become an animator. I flunked out of Art Fundamentals-Intensive (portfolio course) and ended up becoming a songwriter for the rest of the decade. When I returned to the world of art, I decided to give comics another go, and started writing, designing and drawing original fiction which has yet to see the light of day. It DID however reawaken my interest in graphic design, which I’d merely flirted with in the intervening years, doing bits of logo design for friends and bands.

My younger sister got me started doing commercial graphics for her various subsequent employers, and after a decade of stumbling from one poorly-paying job to the next, I’ve somehow chalked up more or less 12 years of professional and semi-professional design experience, all without training, diploma or certificate, which you better believe has hurt my chances of getting decent paying work in the field.

What were your main influences in developing the art you did for Life Flashes By?

I have the good fortune of being close friends with the developer, who knew a variety of my past works and specified that she wanted something hand-drawn and ‘artsy’ (my word, not hers). I decided to invent something original but clearly influenced by late 19th and early 20th Century letterform designs, in part because I’m a sucker for fin de siecle designs, but mostly because my first impression of Charlotte was that she’d probably like that, too. As for the cartoon drawings, they were directly influenced by Deirdra’s own cartooning style. I may have added my own little touches, but essentially, I was aping a master.

Given that you’re also an aspiring novelist, how does your passion for storytelling affect your approach to visual art?

I probably wouldn’t even be an artist, of any sort, if it weren’t for my longstanding and ingrained need to tell stories, and to do so vividly. Oddly enough, my first brushes with storytelling went hand in hand with my discovery of illustrating stories. My first fiction was Rom the Space Knight fanfic, with little drawings of Rom and his buddies fighting in the margins. Most artists will tell you their art tells a story, and I’m certainly one of those. Even my abstracts were an attempt to convey space and event in colour and abstract forms. I have rarely if ever genuinely attempted pure abstract concepts that didn’t have narrative value, at least to me.

More specifically, when I do design work, I often try to evoke a mood, period or aesthetic that is meant to confer a sense of narration without dialogue. I don’t really design things that are strictly utilitarian or ‘an efficient use of shape or colour’. I put in textures and design logos and emblems that make statements about the client and their product. I like to invoke cultural references, without hewing too close to cultural appropriation, as well. And I’m a shameless mash-up artist, but I try to put together odd combinations of symbols and letterforms that compliment each other, both aesthetically and contextually.

Oh, and I dream of one day designing book covers and album covers for my own work. And being paid for it.

What would be your absolute dream project to work on, in any artistic discipline?

I’m currently trying to gestalt all of my various creative strands (illustration, cartooning, painting, music, fiction writing, comic writing) into one flexible medium that will allow me to tell my stories in a way that hasn’t really been done before. I thought for a time that said medium was adventure games, but with my inability to grasp code or 3D modelling, and my incredible lack of monetary resources, I’m forced to reconsider and go with the abilities I already possess. I’m simply looking for a flexible and elegant platform to do all of this in. I hope to have the solution by summer, so I can start writing for and designing a really modern, hopefully very progressive interactive graphic novel.

What are your thoughts on the future of interactive storytelling?

It’s anybody’s guess where interactive storytelling will actually go, but wherever it is, I aim to be there, because it seems to me that it is THE new medium, and it needs people who can really grasp how to write for it and yet make it readable by audiences who have grown with novels, magazines, plays, television and movies as the dominant forms of storytelling. The one thing I feel absolutely certain about is that, despite the modern taste for so-called ‘Reality Television’ and the like, humans will never grow out of the need for stories. Stories are the magic that made us sentient to begin with, and it will be stories that teach us how to become whatever humanity is destined to be next.

This entry was posted in Blog Posts. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to LFB Team Interviews – Lee Edward McIlmoyle

  1. ComradeNarf says:

    Great work, Lee. The lettering is amazing, and combined with the art deco style borders it makes everything shine. Brilliant!

  2. Lee says:

    @ C.N.: Thank you. It was a very special project for me, and I wanted to do it the best I could. I still think I could have done better, but it is a wonderful ‘game’, nevertheless.

  3. You did plenty well as it stands, Lee. I’m glad you could contribute.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>